Marijuana and cancer are two things that are often discussed together, but what is the real relationship between marijuana and cancer?

Does marijuana cause cancer, or can it help? It’s a complex relationship, and there’s still a lot of research needed to uncover all of the possible links between marijuana and cancer, but below is more detailed information on the subject.

What To Know About Marijuana

Before looking specifically at marijuana and cancer, what is marijuana?

Marijuana is derived from the cannabis plant, and it has psychoactive components like THC as well as other compounds that aren’t psychoactive. The THC in marijuana is what causes the users to feel euphoric or high, while something else in marijuana called cannabidiol or CBD can help reduce anxiety, and it doesn’t provide a high like the THC.

There can be a lot of differences in the effects of marijuana based on the quality and the strain, as well as how it’s used.

For example, if someone smokes or vaporizers marijuana the effects are felt more quickly than if it’s used in edible form.

While a lot of people experience a pleasant high when they use marijuana, for some people the experience can be less tranquil, and they instead experience anxiety, panic or paranoia. It just depends on the individual, and also the type of marijuana used and how much is used.

So what about marijuana and cancer?

Marijuana and Cancer Symptoms

There has been a lot of research but also debate in recent years about whether or not marijuana and cancer could have a positive relationship with one another, in that marijuana may be helpful as people cope with the symptoms of cancer or cancer treatment.

First, cancer isn’t easily defined, because there are more than a hundred different kinds of the disease, but they do share some similarities. It refers to a situation where abnormal cells survive, instead of dying, and this includes cells of the body that are old or damaged. This can cause the cells to divide and spread into surrounding parts of the body, and new cancer cells are created. This can cause problems for the immune system, and it can lead to tumors.

Traditional cancer treatments include surgery to remove tumors, radiation, and chemotherapy. There’s also work being done on the potential for immunotherapy to become a more preferred method of treating cancer.

Immunotherapy relies on stimulation of an immune response.

There has been some research and antidotal evidence showing that people do find marijuana to be beneficial when it comes to helping them with the nausea and vomiting that accompanies chemotherapy treatments for cancer.

There has also been some research showing that marijuana can be helpful to treat pain caused by nerve damage, which is frequently a symptom of cancer treatments. Since chemotherapy can cause nausea, it can be difficult for people to eat, and marijuana may boost their appetite as well.

Other research regarding marijuana and cancer has started looking at the possible antioxidant properties of cannabinoids and how they could help not just the symptoms of cancer, but the cancer itself.

The CBD component of marijuana may be particularly helpful in this situation because it reduces pain, inflammation, and anxiety, but there’s no high that’s associated with THC.

The U.S. National Cancer Institute also believes cannabinoids may be able to block cell growth and help prevent the supply of blood to growing tumors.

While there are potential benefits linked to marijuana and cancer, there’s also the question of whether or not marijuana can cause cancer.

Does Marijuana Cause Cancer?

Does marijuana cause cancer? The honest answer is that not a lot is known about whether or not marijuana causes cancer, but it is possible if you smoke it.

When you smoke anything, and you’re inhaling it into your lungs, there’s the potential for damage, and you may be at a higher risk of getting cancer. Many of the chemicals in marijuana are the same as what’s in tobacco smoke, and some of the carcinogens in tobacco smoke are found in even higher concentrations in marijuana smoke. Not only can smoking marijuana cause cancer, but it can lead to other problems as well as such as coughing, excess mucus and chronic bronchitis.

If you are someone who uses marijuana, you should avoid smoking it. There are options including edibles that allow you to use marijuana without the cancer risk that comes with inhaling it, although of course, you are still using drugs. Even if you’re using edibles, if you’re in a state where marijuana use is illegal it can cause you to purchase products that are unregulated and potentially dangerous.

Summing Up—Marijuana and Cancer

There is currently a lot of research going on that looks at marijuana and cancer. There are some states that have approved the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, and many people who have cancer and are undergoing chemotherapy or other treatments find that the use of marijuana can help alleviate the negative symptoms of this.

There is also some research showing that marijuana may be helpful for the treatment of cancer itself, but largely because of the non-psychoactive cannabinoids it contains.

While research on marijuana and cancer is somewhat promising, people still wonder does marijuana cause cancer and the answer is that it can if you smoke it. Inhaling marijuana smoke is much like smoking cigarettes in terms of how it can affect the lungs, so this is a risk to be aware of.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.